MEPs Urge Georgian Authorities to Release “political prisoners”

Following MEP Michael Gahler's statement yesterday, urging the Georgian authorities to release "political prisoners," two other members of the European Parliament, Andrzej Halicki and Viola von Cramon, have released statements with the same content.  

“We, Georgia's friends in the European Parliament welcomed the March 8 Agreement between the Government and the Opposition. No release of political prisoners means breaking the agreement and no fair elections. Set the political prisoners free!”, MEP Andrzej Halicki tweeted

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and a leading member of DEG (Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group), commented on recent developments in Georgia:

"While it is commendable how well the Georgian government is handling the corona crisis, It is equally regrettable to see Georgian Dream instrumentalizing the pandemic to question the premises agreed in March. One more unkept promise will irrevocably render Georgian Dream as an unreliable and irresponsible partner.

"It is crucial that alleged violations of law are investigated and assessed by an independent justice system. Unfortunately, as the recent report of Freedom House also revealed, the justice system in Georgia is far from being free of political motivations.

"It is unacceptable and simply in bad taste how Georgian Dream is trying to drag the facilitator diplomats into a bipartisan political confrontation. The diplomats, having the best interest of Georgia, did a tremendous service by mediating between the parties and brokering the March 8 agreement.

"Lastly, both political sides, especially one with most power, should be reminded that reforming the electoral system and upholding the Rule of Law is a crucial stepping stone for more democratic, more European Georgia. Compromises in these two areas cannot and will not be ignored by the European Union."

Yesterday, a member of the European Parliament, Michael Gahler, posted a tweet where he implied that the Georgian Dream ruling party is testing the waters whether the Western friends of Georgia continue to expect also the release of political prisoners. The MEP also inferred that all parties should stay loyal to the agreement of 8 March.   

In response, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said that during the meetings between the opposition and the government, representatives of the opposition raised the issue of the release of prisoners, but no agreement was reached.

"The ambassadors have not said and will not say, in my opinion, that the release of specific individuals was part of the agreement. This is not written in the text either, and what is not written in the text cannot be the subject of the agreement. There was no such condition," Talakvadze emphasized. 

At issue is a memorandum of understanding signed on March 8, 2020, when representatives of the Georgian government and opposition have reached the agreement on the electoral model. 

They agreed on the 120/30 model and a 1-% barrier for the 2020 elections. 

However, opposition members insist that the agreement consisted of two parts, one of which envisaged the release of "political prisoners." 

The above is denied by the government representatives. 

The members of the Georgian Dream Ruling Party claim that the government has not undertaken an obligation to apply to the President or to the Prosecutor's Office the release of the former Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava, former Minister of Defense Irakli Okruashvili or one of the founders and shareholders of opposition-minded Mtavari Arkhi TV Giorgi Rurua.

By Ana Dumbadze 

Related Story: 120/30: Political Parties Reach Agreement on Electoral Model

14 May 2020 15:02
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